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Data Considerations When You Move

Your computer and its devices (laptops, mobile devices, desktop computers, printers, peripherals, chargers, cables, routers, modems, external drives, and so on) represent not only an investment in hardware but also money invested in acquiring invaluable (and sometimes irreplaceable) data. Ignoring the real cost of data loss in a move is easy.

If you have an IT department, you (probably) have a lot less to worry about, but if you’re a small business with a limited IT budget, or a sole proprietor, contractor, or freelancer working in a home office, making sure you eliminate any mishaps is your responsibility.

Replacing your computer or peripherals and reconstructing your lost data can be costly and sometimes impossible. With the rate of technological change, you might find yourself unable to have your devices repaired in the event of damage, making your data permanently inaccessible.

Anyone who’s ever worked in IT knows the three rules: Backup, Backup, and Backup.

A move can subject hard drives and storage devices to stress they aren’t built to accommodate. Even dropping a well-packed box a short distance from a desk to a floor can cause irreparable harm to sensitive electronic components – especially hard drives. If you aren’t already backing up your data on a regular basis, now is the time to start.

Here are some backup options, listed with pros and cons:

Cloud-based storage: ‘The cloud’ is an ambiguous term referring to ‘data farms’ (essentially warehouses containing servers and hard drives) that are accessible anywhere you have internet access. Cloud-based storage providers vary widely in cost, but here are some of the most popular and most reliable.

Pros:

  • Accessible from anywhere you have an internet connection
  • Files available on mobile devices
  • Cost per gigabyte tends to be relatively low
  • Backups are the responsibility of the service provider

Cons:

  • Can be expensive (especially if you have a great deal of data)
  • You lose control of your data (can be an issue with information protected under privacy laws)
  • Security (no data farm is impervious to cyber-attack or natural disaster)

Local Data Backup (external drives): Terabyte drives are available from retailers (such as Amazon) for a relatively low cost. A few 4 – 8 Tb drives are usually sufficient to store your data.

Pros:

  • Low cost
  • The drive (and its data) are in your possession

Cons:

  • Drives can be easily damaged (leading to loss of data)
  • Disc drives can be easily misplaced
  • Drives are only as secure as you make them (they can be easily stolen, along with your valuable data).

Recommendations:

Personal data: External drives are usually a better choice in a move. After backing up your data to your external drive from your computer, be sure to pack the drives properly (wrap drives with bubble wrap and secure the bubble wrap with packing tape), and place them in the center of the box containing bubble wrap.

Don’t place drives in a box containing other items (such as clothes, file folders, or kitchen items). Drives should be backed up separately, the boxes labeled clearly. Of course, do not over-pack drives in a box.

Business Data: Cloud-based solutions are the best and most secure way to ensure your data is accessible after your move. If you aren’t backing up your data to a cloud-based solution already, now is the ideal time to start.

If you take proper precautions in planning when moving your data to your new home or office, your risks can be mitigated, and your personal or business data protected.

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